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12/Sep/2018

As someone who wears a lot of black you might be forgiven for thinking that adopting a ginger coloured cat was probably not the smartest thing to do. Sure, it’s a little frustrating when you’re in a hurry and you notice the fur coating your clothes. Or when your house looks like a giant fur-ball.

But armed with my new best friend – the lint roller – I know that the benefits of owning a pet (in my case two very cute cats) was one of the best things I could do for my health and happiness.

When you live with a chronic condition, you often go through periods when you’re up, and then you’re down. It’s just the nature of the beast. But sometimes those downs can be really down. You’re in pain, things can look bleak, and it can be hard to ‘turn that frown upside down’.

But I find that the crazy antics of two young cats – chasing after toys, wrestling with each other, ninja fighting something only they can see – has a great impact on my mood. Sure, the pain is still there, but the distraction they provide, and the unconditional love, has real health benefits.

Research has shown that owning a pet can:

  • decrease cholesterol levels and blood pressure
  • decrease feelings of loneliness
  • reduce stress
  • improve mood
  • increase opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities.

I’m sold – let’s go shopping!

Hold your horses for just a minute. If you’ve been thinking of getting a pet, and you think now’s the time, it’s important that you do your research. It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of adopting a pet, and you want to make sure the fit is right for you and the animal. The RSPCA has several resources to help you decide on the right pet for you. Check the More to explore section below for links.

I love animals, but I can’t have a pet 🙁

Sadly owning a pet isn’t an option for everyone. They can be expensive, you may live somewhere that doesn’t allow pets, you don’t have space, or you work long hours and aren’t home very much.

If that’s the case, but you want to be around animals more, there are other options:

  • offer to walk a family members/friends/neighbours pet (I saw a person walking an alpaca on a lead recently!)
  • volunteer time at an animal shelter – there are lots of things you can do – grooming, feeding, playtime socialisation, patting cats, walking dogs
  • look after a family members/friends pet when they go on holidays
  • think outside the litter box – there are others pets you can adopt that may be an option – fish, birds, spiders, mice and rats. They may provide a bit more flexibility than the traditional cat or dog ownership
  • watch videos online. The internet is practically one big animal video…cute cats, playful pups, sneezing pandas. It’s all there waiting for you to find. And even though you’re not in physical contact with an animal, this connection can boost your mood and relieve stress.

More to explore


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25/May/2018

We all get tired. We overdo things and feel physically exhausted. It happens to us all.

But something that most of us living with a chronic, painful condition experience, and that can be hard for others to really understand, is fatigue.

Fatigue’s that almost overwhelming physical and mental tiredness. It may be caused by lack of sleep, your medications, depression, your actual condition (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis) or just the very fact of living with persistent pain.

Fatigue can make everyday activities seem too hard, and can get in the way of you doing the things you enjoy. The good news is there’re many things you can do to manage fatigue.

They include:

Exercise and being active – while this may sound like the last thing you should do when you’re feeling fatigued, exercise can boost your energy levels, help you sleep better, improve your mood, and it can help you manage your pain. If you’re starting an exercise program, start slowly, listen to your body and seek advice from qualified professionals.

Frankie says relax – listening to music, reading a book, taking a warm bubble bath, meditating, deep breathing, visualisation, gardening, going for a walk…they’re just some of the ways you can relax. By using relaxation techniques, you can reduce stress and anxiety (which can make you feel fatigued), and feel more energised.

Eating a well-balanced diet – this gives your body the energy and nutrients it needs to work properly, helps you maintain a healthy weight, protects you against other health conditions and is vital for a healthy immune system. Make sure you drink enough water, and try and limit the amount of caffeine and alcohol you consume.

Pace yourself. It’s an easy trap to fall into. On the days you feel great you do as much as possible – you push on and on and overdo it. Other days you avoid doing things because fatigue has sapped away all of your energy. By pacing yourself you can do the things you want to do by finding the right balance between rest and activity. Some tips for pacing yourself: plan your day, prioritise your activities (not everything is super important or has to be done immediately), break your jobs into smaller tasks, alternate physical jobs with less active ones, and ask for help if you need it.

Get a good night’s sleep – it makes such a difference when you live with pain and fatigue. It can sometimes be difficult to achieve, but there are many things you can do to sleep well, that will decrease your fatigue and make you feel human again.

Talk with your doctor about your meds – sometimes fatigue can be caused by medications you’re taking to manage another health condition. If you think your medications are causing your fatigue, talk with your doctor about alternatives that may be available.

So that’s fatigue…it can be difficult to live with, but there are ways you can learn to manage it. Tell us how you manage. Share your tips for managing fatigue.


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21/Jan/2018

The final instalment of our staff summer reading suggestions.

Enjoy the mix of fiction and non-fiction, and hopefully you’re inspired to read something new, different and exciting.

And finally, in the words of Voltaire “Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.” Enjoy!!

One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia-Marquez
This is Latin American magical realism at its finest and my favourite book. It’s absurd, funny, poetic and haunting.

National Geographic Rarely Seen: Photographs of the Extraordinary
I love a good photo book, and Nat Geo probably does it the best. Every page you turn you marvel and wonder at the extraordinary things to be found in our world. Stunning.

When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi
This autobiography is by a 37 year old neurosurgeon, dying from stage 4 lung cancer. In his book, he reflects on life – what it means to live a meaningful life and what makes life worth living. It’s a hard book to read at times, but extremely moving. Have a box of tissues nearby when you read this one.

1666: Plague, War and Hellfire – Rebecca Rideal
If you lived in England in 1666, yikes! You were at risk of contracting the plague, England was at war with the Dutch, and the Great Fire of London devastated the city. But alongside this, some amazing progress was being made in art and science. This historical text is brought to life in vivid detail through the eyes of some of the important people of the time – from Newton to Milton to Wren. It’s a fascinating read.

Working Class Boy and Working Class Man – Jimmy Barnes
Jimmy Barnes is one of Australia’s most enduring music legends. With his first book he explores his childhood – and I’m amazed he lived through the violence, drugs and excess to become a force in the music industry. I’m halfway through his second book, and it’s as gripping as the first. I love the insight these honest and gritty books give us about Barnesy.

Quick & Easy 5-Ingredient Food – Jamie Oliver
Our last book is a little different, in that it’s a cookbook. However several of our staff recommended it for our summer reading list. And really, summer is the time when many of us have a little extra time to have fun and experiment in the kitchen. In typical Jamie style, the recipes are easy to follow and delicious. And by using 5 key ingredients, as well as staples from your cupboard, it’s cooking that many of us can do…no muss, no fuss.


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10/Jan/2018

Our staff love to read, so we had to make this a 3-parter. There were just too many books!

If any of these books have tickled your fancy, go out and grab a copy from your local bookstore, from the library, from a friend or download a copy onto a mobile device. Also check out your local op shop – it’s amazing what books you can find there.

Finally, if you love the sound of these books, but you aren’t much of a reader, check out subscription audio book services such as Audible, or the audio book collection at your library.

Goldfinch – Donna Tart
I loved it. Couldn’t put in down. Fabulous characters and you can’t wait to see what happens to them. It’s amazing story told through a young teenage boys eyes as he comes to terms with a life changing event centred around a classic art piece in the back drop of the underworld art trade – never cried so much as I did with this book.

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions – Randall Munroe
If you love the absurd, with some maths and physics thrown in, you’ll enjoy this book a lot. The author answers strange, wacky and wonderful hypothetical questions he’s sent by his readers. So if you’ve ever wondered ‘if the moon would change colour if every person on Earth aimed a laser pointer at it?’ or ‘what would it be like if you travelled in time to the same place 1,000 years ago, 10,000 years ago, or forward in time 1,000,000 years?’ The author gives detailed explanations and reasoning. Lots of interesting, nerdy fun.

Tex – Tex Perkins
Aussie bad boy of rock Tex Perkins – front man of Beasts of Bourbon and The Cruel Sea – writes about the good, the bad and most definitely ugly times of Aussie rock’n’roll. Getting into this book took me back to the days of going to pubs and letting lose to Tex’s gravelly voice as he belted out everything from punk to country.

Fishing for Stars (The Persimmon Tree #2) – Bryce Courtenay
Such an interesting fictional telling of a story about life, love, politics and business across Vanuatu and Australia. Like all Courtenay books it’s at times heavy, at times light-hearted. Thoroughly recommend.

The Savage Detectives – Roberto Bolagno
The way that Bolagno writes, particularly this book, makes me feel alive and in love with life.

Wind up Bird Chronicle and IQ84 – Haruki Murakami
Both of these books are totally out there in terms of story line!

One is about a guy whose wife goes missing and then shuts himself up in a well where he can strangely melt into the walls and end up in other places. The other is about an assassin who takes a wrong turn and finds herself in a parallel universe where there are two moons and strange doppelgangers. All in all, I couldn’t put either of those down.

The Farseer Trilogy – Robin Hobb
Hobb is an amazing fantasy writer. I love the story, the characters and especially her writing style, really rich and engaging. You can escape into these books for hours. These books have heart and she shares life lessons she’s learnt through the characters and the events that happen to them and how they deal with them. This makes them memorable and some of the best fantasy I’ve ever read.


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02/Jan/2018

Summer’s here!!

For many of us, this’s a time to recharge, relax and rest so we’re in the best possible shape to begin the new year. Well, once all the holiday festivities are out of the way!! And what better way to relax than to get caught up in a book?

Our staff have provided brief descriptions of some of their favourite reads. From fiction to non-fiction, fantasy to biography, there’s something here for everyone. Enjoy!

The Snowman (Harry Hole #7) – Jo Nesbo
I’m a big fan of the Jo Nesbo Detective Harry Hole series – and his latest is a ripper, literally. There’s nothing like a chilling Nordic thriller to while away the hot summer days!

Meditation: An In-Depth Guide – Ian Gawler & Paul Bedson
I loved this book because it explains how meditation is used to help heal pain and illness and it’s a practical guide which is great for someone who is a bit overwhelmed by the practice of meditation i.e. ME! A great tool to help you get in touch with your inner peace.

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
This series is an oldie, but such a goodie. Laugh out loud craziness as Arthur Dent, a hapless Englishman, is rescued from Earth seconds before it’s destruction to make way for a galactic freeway.

1491: Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus – Charles C. Mann
1491 is a fascinating and creative non-fiction story, about the exploration of pre-Columbian Americas, and the indigenous people who lived there. It is an enjoyable and captivating read, filled with adventure and insight.

The Dresden Files – Jim Butcher
Love this fantasy book series. What’s not to love about Harry Dresden, a wizard private investigator in modern day Chicago. They’re fun, fast-paced books that’ll have you reaching for the next book in the series in no time.

Books That Changed History: From the Art of War to Anne Frank’s Diary
This is a beautiful book to read. It features over 75 of the world’s most celebrated, rare, and important books – from 3000 BCE to the modern day. Each book is thoroughly explored, with gorgeous photos and insightful text. If you love books, you’ll adore this one.

The Couple Next Door – Shari Lapena
‘You never know what’s happening on the other side of the wall’ I just finished this psychological thriller. Didn’t want it to end.




Musculoskeletal Australia (or MSK) is the consumer organisation working with, and advocating on behalf of, people with arthritis, osteoporosis, back pain, gout and over 150 other musculoskeletal conditions.

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